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Athletic motion analysis — how AI and medical devices are unlocking athletes’ potential

Athletic motion analysis how AI and medical devices are unlocking athletes potential

Both individual athletes and sports teams are finding significant benefits in AI, which can provide powerful insights on training and performance, injury prevention and recovery, tactics and more.

With over 450,000 patents having been filed and granted in the medical devices industry over the past three years, we explore how athletic motion analysis is advancing to a stage where even amateur athletes can benefit from safety and performance insights and unlock their true potential.


Athletic motion analysis

One of the most significant benefits of AI in medical devices for athletes is the possibility to predict and prevent injuries and assess performance by way of athletic motion analysis.

We now live a world of digitalisation and machine learning, where AI algorithms can process vast amounts of data to highlight patterns of behaviour that can cause injuries. Wearable devices can monitor an athlete’s movement, heart rate and other physical signs. Using this information, AI can detect irregularities or signs of fatigue that could signal a forthcoming injury. Athletes, coaches and medical professionals can use this data to prepare specific training programmes, implement preventative measures or suggest changes in technique to enhance individual safety and performance.

While motion cameras have long been used to conduct a similar exercise, their limitations and the significant costs involved has meant that not all athletes have had access to such insights about their performance or the expertise required to interpret the data.

All of this is now made possible by AI through the device that we all carry in our pockets — a smartphone — in combination with wearable devices that collect and analyse real-time data.


Running smart

Nike is a leading patent filer in the field of athletic motion analysis. This technology continues to soar in popularity, as signalled by the many other key market players including Apple, Alphabet, Whoop, Lululemon Athletica and Fitstar Labs.

The Nike Sport Research Lab uses “motion-capture camera technology and science to provide a personalised analysis of how you run and why it matters”. Athletes can book a session to assess their gait and “receive recommendations on what form, exercise and footwear solutions may be best”.

We have yet to see the full impact of AI in medical devices and AI-powered motion analysis. However, we can say with a degree of certainty that the integration of AI in medical devices will inspire the new generation of athletes, assist them in reaching their full potential in a sustainable manner and with minimal health risks.


Swimming better

In the world of swimming, Australian sports tech company EO — the Official Wearable Technology Partner of the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships — is making waves with its medical device, aptly named SwimBETTER.

This collects data to measure and quantify the force of swimmers’ hands and orientation when swimming. The data tracked includes force, force direction and hand position to help athletes and coaches analyse efficiency and effort. Better performance means more competitive results, but also less likelihood of injury.


Step changes in training and performance

With AI tracking and optimising virtually everything that athletes and sports teams do, we could see various step changes in the way that sportspeople train and perform. With athlete safety at its core, medical devices are set to play a more important role in sports than ever before — and we, as viewers, are fortunate to be able to watch sport advance even further at the very highest levels.

If you’re innovating in the field of medical devices and sports technology, our dedicated healthcare law and sports law teams can help. We’re experts in medical devices regulation, product safety and intellectual property.

Learn more about why we’re partnering with the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships.

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